Basil is a beautiful aromatic annual herb grown around the world. The gorgeous green oval-shaped leaves are often used in cooking. Basil can be grown indoors or outdoors, but it requires the right type of soil. In this article, we’ll discuss the best soil mix for basil plants.
The Best Soil Mix for Basil Plants Grown Outdoors
Basil plants are native to parts of Africa and Asia but thrive in Mediterranean climates. As such, basil plants need well-draining soils that can still retain some moisture. The soil should also be nutrient-rich, especially if you want to harvest the leaves.
Basil plants prefer neutral to slightly acidic soils with pH levels between 6.0 and 7.5. Loamy soil is ideal for basil plants, but silty or sandy soils also work well. Sandy soils will require additional organic matter, such as compost, to provide more nutrients.
The Best Soil Mix for Basil Plants Grown Indoors
Basil plants can also be grown indoors in pots on the kitchen windowsill. Basil plants grown indoors need a bright windowsill that provides lots of sunlight. Indoor basil plants need a rich potting mix that provides good drainage. Add some perlite or sand to improve drainage and aeration.
Why the Type of Soil Matters
The vast majority of plants require soil to survive, including basil plants. As they grow, plants burrow their roots into the surrounding soil to anchor themselves in place. The roots absorb water, nutrients, and minerals from the soil to fuel new growth.
Plants also need good airflow within the soil to maintain healthy roots and reduce the risk of diseases. The soil is also home to beneficial microbes and other organisms that break down nutrients within the soil. This allows plants to easily absorb nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Different types of plants require different types of soil. When grown in the right kind of soil, plants thrive and produce healthy, strong growth. But when plants are grown in the wrong type of soil, they may experience severe problems.
Overview of Different Soil Types
There are six main types of soils made up of different materials like chalk, clay, loam, peat, sand, and silt. Each type of soil has different qualities that make it more suitable for specific plants. Different soil types provide different levels of aeration, drainage, nutrition, and pH levels.
Generally, looser soils with larger soil particles provide more drainage and aeration. Chalky and sandy soils provide the most drainage because they’re very loose. However, these soils can also lose nutrients quickly. Silty soils provide slightly less drainage than sandy soils but can hold more nutrients.
Clay soils are highly dense and hold lots of nutrients at the cost of poor drainage and aeration. Clay soil often requires additional ingredients to provide a bit more drainage. Loamy soil is considered to be the best soil because it has a good balance of aeration, drainage, and nutrients.
When it comes to pH levels, most soils are relatively neutral. However, some soils are more acidic, while others are more alkaline. Chalky soils are usually more alkaline, while peat-based soils tend to be more acidic.
Signs That You’re Growing Basil Plants in the Wrong Soil
Drooping or Yellowing Leaves
If your basil plant has drooping or yellowing leaves, the soil may be lacking drainage or nutrients. Yellowing leaves are a symptom of root rot, which is caused by waterlogged soil that isn’t draining quickly enough. Yellowing leaves can also indicate that there isn’t enough nitrogen in the soil.
Brown or Black Spots on the Leaves
Brown or black spots appearing on basil leaves can be caused by fungal infections or inadequate nutrients. Black spots on the undersides of the leaves are a sign of fungal infection. These diseases thrive in waterlogged soils. Brown spots on the surface of the leaves indicate either too much or not enough nitrogen.
How to Improve Existing Soil for Basil Plants
If the soil in your garden isn’t ideal for basil plants, you can amend it to make it more suitable. This could involve mixing in different ingredients to improve drainage and nutrient levels and to alter the pH levels.
If you have clay or other dense soil, mix in some grit, sand, or perlite to improve drainage and aeration. Adding organic matter, such as compost, also improves drainage while adding nutrients. With sandy soils that drain too quickly, mix in lots of organic matter to improve moisture retention.
You can also alter the pH level of your soil if it’s too extreme for basil plants. You can use a soil testing kit to evaluate the pH levels of the soil. Mix in some sulfur or sphagnum peat moss to make the soil more acidic. To make the soil more alkaline, add some lime.
Best Soil Mix for Basil FAQs:
What Compost Mix is Best for Basil?
Most types of multi-purpose or peat-free compost will work well for basil plants. If you need more drainage, add in some fine grit, sand, or perlite. Basil plants need rich, well-draining soils that still hold a bit of moisture.
Is Potting Soil OK for Basil?
Potting soil works well for basil plants but is best when amended with some extra compost. This provides more nutrients. Add some fine grit or perlite to improve drainage and aeration if necessary.
Will Basil Grow in Compost?
Basil plants grow well in compost as long as the medium is well-draining. Basil plants need lots of nutrients and slightly moist soil. It’s best to sow basil seeds in pots of multi-purpose compost before planting them outdoors or in a bigger pot.
Basil plants need fertile, well-draining soils that still retain a bit of moisture. However, basil plants will struggle in dense, waterlogged soils. Basil plants prefer neutral to slightly acidic soils with pH levels between 6.0 and 7.5. Loamy soils work best for basil plants, but silty or sandy soils with some added organic compost also work well.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.